Nonreligious parents

When the ‘Best’ School is a Religious School

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 29, 2014

This is an issue that comes up a lot in secular families. (So much so that I’m not sure why I’ve not written about it sooner.) In so many areas of our country, religious organizations have cornered the preschool market. (I remember when I was school-shopping for my daughter, religious preschools outnumbered Montessori-based programs 5-to-1.) Which brings me to a letter I received recently from a reader who lives in the Chattanooga area — not exactly the country’s secular epicenter. Not surprisingly, the most convenient, affordable and trustworthy preschool in her area is at a Baptist […] Read more – ‘When the ‘Best’ School is a Religious School’.
“Mommy, What’s Satan?”

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 10, 2014

Of all the religious concepts that I’ve discussed with my 8-year-old daughter, Satan has been one of the toughest — partly because it seems awkward to speak of something so nasty and awful in a matter-of-fact way. But that’s precisely what makes it a great addition to “Mommy, What’s That?” a new series I launched last week, where you can find simple, straightforward and age-appropriate language to explain religious ideas to children in a non-religious way. So here goes. Satan: The short answer: Satan is the “bad guy” in the Bible. The long answer: In […] Read more – ‘“Mommy, What’s Satan?”’.
A Book American Kids Aren’t Reading — But Should

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 17, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed British philosopher and author Julian Baggini, who wrote a fantastic book for kids called Really, Really, Big Questions about God, Faith and Religion (2011, Kingfisher). While I found it at my public library, it’s not one you’re likely to run across in major book stores. While very well-received in Britain, the book has flown largely under the radar here in the U.S. And that’s too bad for us — because it’s a great starting point for kids ready to explore religious issues. Each section of the book seeks to answer […] Read more – ‘A Book American Kids Aren’t Reading — But Should’.
‘Very Religious Parents’ Trying to Indoctrinate Their Grandkid

By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 21, 2013

I got a letter from a reader today. Raise your hand if you can relate. Looking for some advice on how to deal with my very Christian parents and my daughter. She’ll be 2 in January and is already saying “Amen” and “Yay God.” I am not Christian and feel disrespected by this. They know that I have COMPLETELY different beliefs. Any advice on how to “respectfully” get them to stop? Pretty typical, right? I started to write this mom a private response but, with her permission, decided to make it public. I’d be curious […] Read more – ‘‘Very Religious Parents’ Trying to Indoctrinate Their Grandkid’.
‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 15, 2013

It is a common misconception that the Golden Rule began with Jesus. In fact, it’s part of the reason some Christians think of their religion as synonymous with morality. After all, to treat others the way you want to be treated is the essence of moral conduct. And it was Luke 6:31 in the New Testament that quotes Jesus as saying: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Matthew 7:1-5 also addresses the topic.) But Jesus didn’t invent the ethic of reciprocity anymore than did Muhammad, who said: […] Read more – ‘‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old’.
7-Year-Old: ‘Why Would God Care Whether I Believe in Him?’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 4, 2013

My 7-year-old daughter has been thinking quite a bit about death lately. She told me she doesn’t want to lose any more of her baby teeth because that means she’s going to grow up, and she doesn’t want to grow up because that means she’s going to die. Pretty good logic. Well, apparently, the death thing came up at a playdate over the weekend because, in the car this morning, Maxine asked: “Is it true that people who believe in God live longer than people who don’t believe in God?” My husband and I hesitated […] Read more – ‘7-Year-Old: ‘Why Would God Care Whether I Believe in Him?’’.
It’s Not a Competition: 8 Tips for Interfaith Parents

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 6, 2013

In America at least, “mixed-religion” families are becoming a norm. And that’s a great thing in many ways — great for couples, great for kids, and great for society. But it comes with a fair share of complications, too. And figuring out how to talk to children about these different beliefs is one of them. It can be hard, for instance, to field questions of faith when your answers collide with those of your partner’s — “Mommy’s going to heaven, and Daddy is — well, he’s going to the ground.” But these talks (not to mention […] Read more – ‘It’s Not a Competition: 8 Tips for Interfaith Parents’.
7 Tips for Dealing with Religious Relatives

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 3, 2013

I’m lucky to have a supportive family. Even my religious family members respect and accept me for who I am. But that’s not always the case. Some of us are facing relatives who are heartbroken about our lack of faith — incredulous, fearful, maybe even angry. For parents, this is an area that weighs especially heavily. We want so much to encourage our children to have open, meaningful relationships with our loved ones, but we worry our kids will be pressured to believe things that aren’t true, or may even be harmful. No one wants to expose […] Read more – ‘7 Tips for Dealing with Religious Relatives’.
Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 13, 2013

My husband and 7-year-old daughter had another totally awesome conversation about God a few days ago. They used to do that from time to time, but it’s been a while since the subject has come up in much detail. I sure love it when it does. The talks are always fun, insightful, thought-provoking and, frankly, cute as hell. They also present Charlie with golden opportunities to teach Maxine about honesty, diversity  and the importance of kindness. Anyway, this one’s particularly good, so I wanted to share: Maxine: Where do you think God is? Like, which house or school… […] Read more – ‘Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues’.
The Best Thing About Being a Secular Parent? You Tell Me!

By Wendy Thomas Russell | April 22, 2013

Not long ago, my sister and her husband invited an old friend over for dinner. The friend is a talker, so their nights with him usually require a lot of generosity on their parts. He tends, my sister tells me, to drone on endlessly about inane topics — including, but not limited to, good meals he’s eaten recently. You know that guy too, don’t you? Yeah. Well all do. Anyway, on this particular night my sister’s 4-year-old son was sitting at the table with them. He apparently had taken his cue from his parents because […] Read more – ‘The Best Thing About Being a Secular Parent? You Tell Me!’.

Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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